Do You Wanna Do Your Trick?
A Double Yellow-head Amazon Gives the Cues for a Yellow-collared Macaw's Trick
By Sally Blanchard Over thirty years or so ago when I lived in the mid-west, I taught my beloved yellow-collared macaw, Bojo, to do a somersault in my hand. She was always delighted to perform this trick on cue. Rascal, my male double-yellow head, was quite a talker and one never knew what he would come up with. One afternoon, I was visited by a man who did a delightful performing parrot show throughout the mid-west. I explained that Bojo was a “one-trick pony” who did one trick very well on cue. I was a bit embarrassed to show her off to a man who had parrots who did all sorts of elaborate tricks during their performances. but he asked me to, so I set Bojo up to do her trick. The minute I picked her up with my hand around her and turned her on her back, Rascal started talking. He said, “Do you wanna do your trick? OK are ya ready... when I say three ... One, Two Three.” The moment Rascal said “Three”, I raised my thumb, Bojo grabbed it and over she went. When I had her do her somersault without Rascal’s help, the actual cue was for me to lift my thumb for Bojo to grab on to so she could turn in my hand. After she made the turn perfectly, Rascal exclaimed, “VERRRRY GOOD!” The trick trainer was astonished. He had never seen two parrots, especially two different species, work so well in unison with one giving the verbal commands for the others. He even offered me a good amount of money for both birds. Of course, it was an offer I could easily refuse. There was absolutely no way I would sell my delightful companion parrots for any amount of money. But I also didn’t want to tell him that the smoothly coordinated performance he had just witnessed had been a total coincidence and had never happened before! (... and never happened again!)